MPVs have been always popular since their launch some decades ago. There are several types that go from small ones up to the full size minivans for large families. In the middle most car manufacturers offer a larger and more family version of their ‘C-segment’ cars which are used as the base for them. Some times buyers look for more roominess but keeping short dimensions so they can make use of more comfort in the interior and at the same time they do not have regular problems parking because of size. For this kind of client there are the ‘C-MPV’ cars which gather all characteristics of regular compact cars and add the possibly of making use of all the interior. It is originally created in Europe when Renault presented the Mégane Scenic in mid 90’s, based on the compact Mégane but taller and therefore more comfortable than its brothers. It was an immediate success and soon other car makers, specially from Europe, began to develop their own mid-sized minivans. It is why this segment is so popular in Europe and becomes some how relevant in North America, where they prefer larger vans.
In 2011 around 800.000 mid-sized minivans were sold in Europe, which becomes the larger market for them, in terms of units and as a percentage. They are specially popular in France (the home of Renault Scenic) with 242.000 units (11% of the market), followed by Germany with 180.000 cars (5.7% of the market) and the UK with 98.000 units (4.4% of market share). It explains why most European auto makers developed the first generations of their minivans and they keep working on the next ones. French are very strong with their Scenic, Picasso and so on. Then came Ford with its C-Max, based on the Focus, and soon came Opel, VW and even Mercedes. Japanese have also proposed their vehicles and of course Koreans. Italy is quite behind them as the first recent proposal with the particular Multipla, presented in late 90’s was a complete flop outside Italy, no matter it was a good idea. In America this kind of cars was developed after the larger vans, so sometimes it is possible to find really big minivans in the ‘C-MPV’ segment. An example of it is the case of the Dodge Journey, a 4.8 m long crossover closer to a MPV than a SUV. As there is the big Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Caravan, the arrival of the Journey supposed to offer a lighter minivan, so it would be place in a lower segment (in this case ‘C-MPV’). That is different from what happens to the Freemont in Europe which is too long to be classified as ‘C-MPV’, as European cars are shorter than Americans (in general). So, the Journey in America is a ‘C-MPV’ while the Freemont in Europe could be classified as ‘D-MPV’. Of course these are all segmentation considerations and anyone can think different from this point of view.
According to that, Fiat-Chrysler group offer just one single model in ‘C-MPV’ segment. The Journey is therefore the unique model in this important segment, but even if the group lacks of more products, the Journey does a great job, as it is the best-selling mid-sized minivan in the US and Canada. Last year more than 55.000 units were sold in USA and more than 29.000 in Canada, which allowed Chrysler group to catch 31% of that market in the US and 45% in Canada. Nevertheless this Dodge plays in a segment that is not really popular over there: 1.4% of US sales and 4.1% of Canadian ones. Outside those two markets, the group does not have any market share as it does not offer any model. Possible models coming? no. The Multipla, which died some years ago, stopped being produced as it was not enough safe, no matter it was the only mid-sized minivan to transport up to 6 people (all of them with their own seat) in less than 4 meters length. Personaly I think Fiat should develop a product for this segment as it is well-known for its family and compact cars, and Europeans love them. Besides it could work in other markets such as Chinese one, where more than 300.000 units were sold in 2011 (2.4% of the market)*.
Click here to see ‘D-MPV’ Segment
Click here to see ‘B-MPV’ Segment
* FGW data basis
Actually the Dodge Journey/Fiat Freemont is a medium size (D segment) crossover.
As I said in the post, in Europe it can be considered a larger crossover (closer to a minivan) but in America is more a lighter minivan than anything due to the fact that most of cars are so big over there (and also because of its price, much cheaper than regular larger minivans). At the end it is just the way we see them.
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